Winners of Kroger's second annual accelerator program, like the The Ugly Company, will see their products on store shelves next year.
In an effort to enhance its selection of local products available throughout its footprint, The Kroger Co. has chosen five new and emerging brands to be part of its second annual Go Fresh & Local Supplier Accelerator. Each winning company receives product placement in-store and online within Kroger banners beginning in 2023, as well as sponsor support, business development and coaching opportunities from the grocer.
The accelerator competition received more than 1,600 applications, and a committee of judges led by Kroger, in collaboration with ECRM and RangeMe, narrowed the applications to a group of 15 brands. That group of suppliers traveled to Kroger’s Cincinnati headquarters to display and merchandise their products with Kroger category managers, merchandising directors and leaders.
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The event culminated with a pitch competition that required each company to deliver a 15-minute presentation and provide samples to a panel of judges. This year’s winning brands include:
- Hiatus (Baltimore, Md.) – Offering a number of decadent flavors, Hiatus provides consumers with premium cheesecakes made with natural ingredients.
- j. berry Nursery & Genetics (Grand Saline, Texas) – Bringing beautiful plants into peoples’ lives, homes and gardens around the world, the j. berry team elevates the beauty of gorgeous hibiscus, crape myrtles and begonias with the science of plant genetics.
- Zacca Hummus (Boise, Idaho) – Serving from the family farm to your table, the Zacca company makes traditional-style Mediterranean hummus in a variety of flavors that are all non-GMO, gluten-free and made with no artificial preservatives.
- Coro Foods (Kent, Wash.) – Providing culinary-driven charcuterie for more than 20 years in the Seattle area, this women-owned company has worked to master the art of old-world salumi without being bound by its traditions.
- The Ugly Company (Kingsburg, Calif.) – This supplier upcycles perfectly healthy fruits with an imperfect appearance into dried fruit snacks.
"We are thrilled to welcome this year's Go Fresh & Local cohort to our extraordinary portfolio of fresh local and regional suppliers," said Dan De La Rosa, group VP of fresh merchandising. "Go Fresh & Local was created to bring the best, most innovative, and freshest local and regional products from new and diverse small businesses to our customers across the U.S. This innovative group surpassed our expectations at every step.
“Their commitment to excellence and the unique blend of products they've created will help us expand our local footprint and deliver on our mission of being Fresh for Everyone," De La Rosa continued.
Serving 60 million households annually nationwide through a digital shopping experience, and almost 2,800 retail food stores under a variety of banner names, Cincinnati-based Kroger is No. 4 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2022 list of the top food and consumables retailers in North America.